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Power and Conflict in Healthcare

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| | POWER AND CONFLICT Hello Friends! It’s a new week and I give you a new and interesting update. Power and conflict is a sensitive topic at every workplace and I would be glad if you guys can really contract few good things from my update and apply to your daily jobs. Keep up the hardwork! - Yesha Raval | 09 | | | | | “The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert | | do you influence your employees? |
Power comes with control and differences raise conflicts.
Power comes with control and differences raise conflicts.

Power is privilege
If you control something that has value then it makes you powerful (Borkowski, 2009). Existence of power is due to unequal relationship and dependency between people. Power can be defined as "the influence over the beliefs, emotions, and behaviors of people"(Borkowski, 2009). If you are able to influence your employees then you are said to have potential power. It depends upon how people behave, how they perceive and how they get motivated (Borkowski, 2009).
Sources of power
It is possible for an individual to exercise more than one source of power at a time. The four main sources of power are as follows (Borkowski, 2009):
(1) Reward power - be able to offer reward, which is valuable, to others.
(2) Coercive power - be able to punish others and withhold something that they need.
(3) Legitimate power - having authority that is based on the position or your role in the system. Three bases are cultural, social structural and delegation of power.
(4) Referent power - attraction of one individual towards another. more attraction leads to more referent power.
(5) Expert Power - Be able to offer power to other based on perception of one individual and the knowledge of the other.
If the power positions are not defined properly, the individuals seem to observe personal power and create dependency in the organization. Employees at lower-level can possess power too by making the higher-level employees depend on them. For example, in a large hospital physician residents depend on the floor nurses. In these types of situations there is no other option but to cooperate (Borkowski, 2009).
When you give tasks that you are not willing to do to your employees, they automatically seem to possess certain amount of power (Borkowski, 2009).
Developing a base to the power
A workplace always consists of division of labor and resources that are limited (Borkowski, 2009). You will be dependent on your employees at some point. For coping with these situations you need to eliminate, limit the dependency or establish the power over others. These three factors can be successfully achieved by following four steps (Borkowski, 2009):
(1) Create a sense of obligation - you go out of your way to do others a favor and they feel need to return it back.
(2) Build reputation of being an expert - you can achieve this by stting a track record.
(3) Identification - you behave in a manner that makes other respect you.
(4) Dependence - Try to make others believe that its them who are dependent on you and not the other way around.
These steps will help you to influence your employees and getting them do the work that you want them to do.
Conflicts are inevitable but important

Conflict is another word for office politics (Perdue, 2012). When people feel threatened towards their needs, concerns and interest the disagreement jumps in. When conflicts are widespread at a workplace they cost heavy price. It normally results from differences among individuals caused in relation to values, power and attitudes (Perdue, 2012).
The conflicts can be positive or negative (Borkowski, 2009). Positive conflicts can bring positive and effective changes and negative conflicts can lower the productivity and need to be solved immediately.
The conflicts are of four types as follows (Borkowski, 2009):
1) Goal – arises with the incompatibility of results.
2) Cognitive – arises with the incompatibility of ideas and thoughts.
3) Affective – emerges due to incompatibility of emotions and feelings.
4) Procedural – results from the difference of opinion among people to resolve a matter.
Models to negotiate conflict
Look at the picture above and understand what it is trying to point out. To deal with conflicts you can either use domination, compromise or integration (Perdue, 2012). Domination observed by one side will help you get what you want, compromising will not satisfy either sides and integration is a way that will help both the sides to achieve what they wish for. If you really care about your employees and want them satisfied as well, then integration is a best technique you can use to avoid conflicts (Perdue, 2012). These elements are better explained in the models below. There are three different models that you can use to negotiate conflicts and each of them has different goals that you can apply in different situation. These models are as follows (Borkowski, 2009):
(1) Distributive Model - also known as "hard-bargaining". Teaches you to position the power, limiting trust, withhold information and using threats. Compared to tug-of-war game, where one loses and one wins. Agreement is one-sided.
(2) Integrative model - most often used model. Teaches you about cooperation and approach which is agreement-oriented. Both parties jointly understand problem and find a best possible solution. Agreement is in favor of both the parties.
(3) Interactive model - talks about the third part involvement. These third parties can be mediators, consultants or arbitrators. Deeply evaluates the problem. Teaches you to improve openness and communication and reduce misperceptions.
As a leader you should well acquainted with the skills of negotiation and know how to use them according to the demand of situation.
Managing conflicts
There are five elements that you can use to manage conflict and they are as follows (Perdue, 2012):
(1) Understand - understand the cause of incident, related issues and people's point of view.
(2) Listen - put away your biases and try to listen to others.
(3) Debate - if you debate in a healthy way, the process becomes much easier. If conflicts are positive they are helpful.
(4) Connect - maintaining relationships is equally important so you should thoughtfully manage your feelings and perceptions while managing conflict.
(5) Be open - There is no harm in admitting your fault and be willing to forgive as it might change your past and make the better future.
You need to see conflicts in a positive way rather than seeing them as something negative and destructive. Sometimes you need people to challenge you and give alternative ideas which might bring new changes. Don't try to avoid but try to balance conflicts and make our organization a better place to work.

For Further Reading:
Borkowski, N. (2009). Organizational behavior, theory, and design in health care. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Joseph Joubert. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/ josephjoub157297.html

Perdue, J. (2012). Braithwaite innovation group five ways to manage workplace conflict. Braithwaite Innovation Group. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://braithwaiteinnovationgroup.com/leadbig/five-ways-to-manage-workplace-conflict/
[Untitled photograph of conflict]. Retrieved October 17, 2013 from: http://www.berneyassociates.com/blog/
[Untitled photograph of meeting]. Retrieved October 17, 2013 from: http://braithwaiteinnovationgroup.com/leadbig/five-ways-to-manage-workplace-conflict/
[Untitled photograph of power]. Retrieved October 17, 2013 from: http://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRu8FxxVVHXvJKB-yrbMGu1LHFbco5Hx9krx1u08rz825Iwb1dV4g
[Untitled photograph of resolution model]. Retrieved October 17, 2013 from: http://npo.triaxiapartners.com/sites/default/files/conflictResolutionHands.png…...

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